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Paphos Travel Blog

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I passed through Limassol and rounded the southwest corner of the island. Soon I could see the water, again. I made a great realization. As I passed the beautiful point where the little islands just off the coast, south of Pafos, where I had been just days earlier. It was Aphrodities birthplace, the place I was in search of. I had found it that day, and didn’t even know it.

 

Soon, I could see a larger city, I was in Pafos. It was larger than I had expected, much larger. I thought that it would be village- like and that is the total opposite of what you find. Pafos has much charm to be found but, it definitely been catering to the holiday package set, for some time.

Now, I intended to start my tour of Pafos by visiting the Byzantine museum and the Ethnographic museum. I drove into town and really had no idea of my orientation within the city. This caused me to be a bit lost for over 45 minutes just driving around trying to figure out how to get…….well, anywhere. The signs were confusing as they would give contrary information from block to block…….aaarrgghh!!! I tried to head to Kato Pafos archeological site, to the south of the city and messed that up. I then tried to go to, the next on my list, The Tombs of the Kings site just north of town. I was able to reach it and then use it later as my point of reference to guide me to my other planned visits, today.

 

The Tombs of the Kings is a World Heritage Site. The last King of Pafos, Nicocles, moved his capitol to Pafos in the 4th century B.

C. His desire to participate more actively in the dramatic political events of his time encouraged him to leave the chiefly religious center of Palaipaphos. However, he retained his title of Priest ��" King of the Sanctuary of Aphrodite,  and continue to use the sanctuary’s rich revenues.

I pay my fee and start down the path to the tombs. The first one is above ground, a large square room with many cubbies cut away in the stone.

 

In between some of the tombs were hunks of rock with beautiful plants growing out of their artistically eroded flanks.

 

The impressive appearance of the tombs and the heavy Doric style of their pediment contributed to the nick-naming of the site.

The cemetery was continuously used as a burial ground during the Hellenistic and Roman periods (3rd century B.C. ��" 3rd century A.D.) and as a place of refuge by the early Christian during persecution. In Medieval times they were used by squatters who established themselves in some of the large tombs making alterations to the original architecture.

The site is spread out along the coast as the Kings must have wanted an everlasting view of the Mediterranean Sea. Most of the tombs are quite impressive but very rough. There are several, though, and one in particular, that not only will take you back to their time but make you feel like you are the King!

Tomb #3 is in the best condition. It’s center courtyard, probably used for ritual purposes. This tomb was a family tomb as there are two large tombs and many smaller ones at this location. The columns of the courtyard are mostly intact and promote the feeling of the true grandeur of the site.

The peristyle tombs of Pafos have their closest parallels in the tombs of Mustafa Pasha Necropolis in Alexandria. However their living prototypes must be the houses of Hellenistic Pafos which were built with the same plan (around a peristyle court). The later examples of the (villa of Dionysos) show this, as do Hellenistic houses in Delos, Pergamon, and Priene, and other sites preserving Greek domestic architecture.

Evidence derived from the most recent excavations show that almost all tombs were plastered and covered with frescoes, a tradition introduced from Macedonia via Egypt.

I returned to the car and planned out the route to the city center. It was really much closer and easier to reach a convenient central parking lot that I would have expected after my initial experience navigating this city.

 

In five minutes and only for turns, I am parked and walking in the city center on my way to the museums that I wanted to visit.

I walk through a little park with its stone arch gate and a tree filled hill with a little building with a bell tower. It’s a nice respite in the middle of the city. It backs on Agios Theodoros, which I would visit later.

I followed my city map and found my way into the “museum district”. Towards the back of the museum area, I found the home that is the Ethnographic Museum. It in housed in the home of the great archeologist who was responsible for many of the great discoveries on Cyprus, G.

S. Eliades.

What a treasure, I was skeptical at first, but would quickly see the value in the price of admission (twice the price of all other museums in Cyprus).

The house was built in the late 19th century by merchants in a Cypriot “urban architecture” style. It is a bit peculiar in comparison to other mansions of its day.

It’s artifacts include wooden chests, some dating to the Frankish period, a collection of Eastern Mediterranean coins spanning 2500 years, and ceramics from the 4th millennia B.C. (Sumerians, who were the first to invent the potter’s wheel).

The museum showcases many different types of typical rooms and tools of professions.

There is a workshop that has tools for knitting, weaving, farming, and basket making. There is a bedroom staged to show many of the uses of Cypriot lace and traditional clothing.

In the courtyard there are many of the tools and presses that would have been involved in the cultivation of grapes and the making of wine.  

There is a traditional kitchen which has a polished clay bowl that the whole family would have eaten out of in the old days. They made interesting uses of cane where pieces hung on the wall were used as storage devices for glassware and cutlery. Also, a mortar and pestle was a staple in every kitchen.

There was an oil mill used for olive crushing. There would at least have been one clay / earthen oven….

on the back porch area but,  some homes had two or even three.

The home, also, happens to be at the site of a tomb, cut into the hill at the rear of the courtyard. It happens to be of the same period as the Tombs of the Kings.

To the left of the Tomb there is a little chapel cut into the rock. It dates from the same period and was probably used as hermitages during the early Christian years.

The lady who welcomed me and gave me a bit of explanation is the wife of the great archeologist, herself. She is quite old but, so very friendly and enthusiastic about sharing the knowledge and treasures that her husband spent his life to uncover.

What a wonderful woman and experience, visiting the home of the man who was responsible for the most important archeological finds in Cyprus.

What a special opportunity and a special collection.

I left the museum and continued walking further back into a secluded square with the beautiful Agios Theodoros church. Its exterior was a typical Cypriot Orthodox church, beautiful but, of the general design. The door was open and it was empty. So, I went inside for a look around. This simple exterior revealed a interior of color and artistry and craftsmanship. It had all of these, in this little hidden church, to the extreme. What a treasure and I was able to view it all by myself.

Excited by my find I continue on my way. Only a few minutes from the Ethnographic Museum is the Byzantine Museum. This museum is simple and unassuming but, is for serious icon lovers. They do not allow photography and have lockers that they require that you put your camera away in front of them. There are many icons from the 15th ��" 18th centuries. The pride and joy of the museum are their few 12th ��" 14th century icons as there aren’t many in the country.

Also, the oldest icon in Cyprus I displayed here. It’s from the 7th/ 8th century. It is the icon os St. Marina from Filousa and it from the period of Arab domination of Cyprus. It was rescued from the Sea of Pafos.

They also have several doors of churches in the region, iconoclast surrounds, metal art, ancient manuscripts, and wall paintings.

 Before leaving I expressed how much I enjoyed the collection and the pieces that I enjoyed the most. I bought a guide showing several of the pieces and telling about the history of the collection. The attendant offered me a piece of Pafos special candy. It’s a bit like Turkish delight but softer and with just a simple sweetness. It was tasty and he offered me another piece and then another, again. I thanked him for his kindness and continued on my way.

Ok, time to get back into the car and move on to the next exciting destination.

I plot out my route to Kato Pafos, The major ancient archeological site in Pafos, on par with Kourion.

I follow the directions that I come up with from the map but, somehow end up at the marina……..hhmmmm. Ok, so let’s drive into the marina area. While finding parking, I see the fortress on the ocean. Wow, this is great.

What is left of the Medieval Lusignan Castle is only the western tower of a much larger castle dating from 1391 which the Venetians demolished only a century later. The Ottomans repaired and created a new use as a dungeon in 1592. The British used it as a salt warehouse until 1935.

I walk along the marina and watch the people enjoying a drink or a snack by the water. Each of the cafes offered a view of the water all around them and the mountains in the background.

At the end of the marina, the fortress is located. I went in and took a look at the spaces on the first level. The large open rooms were impressive. The rooftop revealed the commanding view of the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains to the east of Pafos. To the north, I noticed a lighthouse. It was the lighthouse of Kato Pafos. I was so close but, didn’t find it.

In deciding how best to spend the remainder of my time before heading back, I decided to forego Kato Pafos in favor of Agia Kyiaki.

Agia Kyiaki was at the top of my list of things to see while on Cyprus. I had been impressed with the combination of Greek and Roman ruins along with the ancient Orthodox Church.

The 12th century stone church with a newer belfry is also known as Chrysopolitissa ( Our lady of the Golden City).

It was built on the ruins of  an earlier seven-aisled Christian Byzantine basilica, the largest in Cyprus. Both buildings were destroyed by the Arabs but, parts have survived including the 4th century religious floor mosaics. One of the single columns on the site has been dubbed “St. Paul’s Pillar”. The apostle came to Cyprus to preach Christianity but, was captured and led before the Roman governor, Sergius Paulus, who sentenced him to flogging. St. Paul blinded his accuser, Elymas, then convincing Sergius of his innocence to such an extent that the governor converted to Christianity.

The site is hidden within a block surrounded by commercial and residential buildings. It’s truly hard to find! But, keep looking as you will be justly rewarded.

In my attempt to get myself out of this area and back to the main road I happened upon a tremendous find.

It was obviously an ancient structure with multiple domes with circles of glass, I’m assuming to let light in. It looked to be abandoned. I was thoroughly fascinated by it and its unique domes. The only thing that I have been able to uncover is that it was an ancient Turkish bath.

I had a great day, here in Pafos. I had seen much, not everything but, was very pleased with my day.

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photo by: Stevie_Wes